New study: adaptation cheaper than mitigation
Friday, February 8, 2008
In a new Cato Institute study, Indur M. Goklany uses cost information from the UN Millennium Program and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to evaluate the merits of adaptation and mitigation, two different approaches to climate change. This cost information reveals that it is far less costly to reduce vulnerability to climate-sensitive problems (such as malaria and water scarcity) than to mitigate by reducing greenhouse gases.
In response, Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution asks:
"Since this is both a Goklany piece and a Cato piece, an interesting question arises: who exactly is now obliged to push for anti-malarial foreign aid? Cato? Goklany? Either/or? Both? Or is it enough to just make the comparison once and leave it at that?"
I think this question misses the point about Goklany's study and the role of the Cato Institute and other think tanks. First, Goklany has used a similar form of analysis in a variety of other studies about the potential impacts of climate change. (See, for instance, his contribution to The Impacts of Climate Change). He has made the comparison far more than once, as an academic commentator. Second, I hope that these and other analyses about cost-effective approaches to climate change are being read and taken to heart by policymakers, who are certainly part of the intended audience for such studies. But whether policymakers are taking these ideas to heart in determining their approach to climate policy, certainly remains to be seen.